Colonization and Adaptation of Japanese Island Green Anoles

A female green anole from Hahajima in the Osagawara Islands.

We’ve had a series of posts about the anoles of the Osagawara Islands, of Japan, the “Galápagos of the Orient” [1, 2]. Now a new paper (pdf here) from Masakado Kawata’s lab has resequenced genomes of multiple individuals and measured morphology to assess how large the founding population was and what sorts of morphological changes have occurred since colonization, as well as identifying some genes potentially under selection.

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Here’s the abstract:

Invaded species often can rapidly expand and establish in novel environments through adaptive evolution, resulting in devastating effects on native communities. However, it is unclear if genetic variation at whole-genomic levels is actually reduced in the introduced populations and which genetic changes have occurred responding to adaptation to new environments. In the 1960s, Anolis carolinensis was introduced onto one of the Ogasawara Islands, Japan, and subsequently expanded its range rapidly throughout two of the islands. Morphological comparison showed that lower hindlimb length in the introduced populations tended to be longer than those in its native Florida populations. Using re-sequenced whole genomic data, we estimated that the effective population size at the time of introduction was actually small (less than 50). We also inferred putative genomic regions subject to natural selection after this introduction event using SweeD and a method based on Tajima’s D, π and FST. Five candidate genes that were potentially subject to selection were estimated by both methods.The results suggest that there were standing variations that could potentially contribute to adaptation to nonnative environments despite the founder population being small.

About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

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